The Australian market place is highly regulated with mandatory product compliance programs imposed at federal, state and local levels. Product compliance is administrated and policed by several government regulators who draft and implement legislation that specifies the regulations. For the most part the regulations are based on standards and usually these are derived from those issued by international standards organizations such as the IEC. Local variations are incorporated into the original standard, that is reissued as an Australian standard with the prefix of AS.
Suppliers of products to the Australian market must inform themselves of the technical and administrative requirements that they must implement before they offer their products for sale. Penalties for not doing so can be costly. Apart from having to recall all products fundamental fines may have to be paid in addition to the risk of litigation from consumers.
Two of the more common compliance programs cover Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Electrical Safety. Suppliers of electrical and electronic products to the market must assess their goods against the technical requirements, compile a technical file and where required mark the products with either the C Tick Mark or the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM).
C Tick Mark
To deal with the problem of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), the Australian Federal Government introduced the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) framework in 1996 to protect Australia's radio frequency spectrum by introducing technical limits for radio frequency emissions from electrical / electronic products under the Radiocommunications Act.
Suppliers (manufacturers and importers) of these products must demonstrate compliance with the standards as set out in the applicable notice of the Australian Communication and Media Authority, prepare a compliance folder, sign a Declaration of Conformity and apply the C Tick mark to their products. The applicable standards may be AS / NZS, EN, IEC or CISPR standards.
The applicability of the C Tick mark was expanded to include certain classes of radio transmitters. In these cases the applicable AS / NZS standards address the permitted limits of transmitters including frequency of operation, power and human exposure to EM fields.
Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)
To place electrical products on the market in Australia requires assessment against the applicable Australian safety standards as mandated by the electrical safety legislation. Safety approval certificates are required for a designated list of “prescribed items”, that are in the main household goods such as swimming pool equipment, fans and heaters, however all products that connect to single phase and multi-phase power supplies need to be assessed against the applicable Australian standards and relevant legislation.
Where required, suppliers may indicate that a product meets with the applicable Australian standard for electrical safety by applying the Regulatory Compliance Mark or RCM. Note that the RCM is a trademark and permission for its use must be given by the relevant authority. Currently the RCM can be used to indicate compliance with EMC as well as electrical safety requirements to the extent as set down in the applicable and current standards, state legislation and Australian Communication and Media Authority Notices. For more information about current and future usage of the RCM go to the websites of the relevant regulators. These include ERAC and the ACMA. Note that beginning March 2013 the ACMA plans to phase out the C Tick Mark and replace it with the RCM.